Genome-scale Evaluation of the Biotechnological Potential of Red Sea Bacilli Strains

  • Ghofran K. Othoum

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The increasing spectrum of multidrug-resistant bacteria has caused a major global public health concern, necessitating the discovery of novel antimicrobial agents. Additionally, recent advancements in the use of microbial cells for the scalable production of industrial enzymes has encouraged the screening of new environments for efficient microbial cell factories. The unique ecological niche of the Red Sea points to the promising metabolic and biosynthetic potential of its microbial system. Here, ten sequenced Bacilli strains, that are isolated from microbial mat and mangrove mud samples from the Red Sea, were evaluated for their use as platforms for protein production and biosynthesis of bioactive compounds. Two of the species (B.paralicheniformis Bac48 and B. litoralis Bac94) were found to secrete twice as much protein as Bacillus subtilis 168, and B. litoralis Bac94 had complete Tat and Sec protein secretion systems. Additionally, four Red Sea Species (B. paralicheniformis Bac48, Virgibacillus sp. Bac330, B. vallismortis Bac111, B. amyloliquefaciens Bac57) showed capabilities for genetic transformation and possessed competence genes. More specifically, the distinctive biosynthetic potential evident in the genomes of B. paralicheniformis Bac48 and B. paralicheniformis Bac84 was assessed and compared to nine available complete genomes of B. licheniformis and three genomes of B. paralicheniformis. A uniquely-structured trans-acyltransferase (trans-AT) polyketide synthase/nonribosomal peptide synthetase (PKS/NRPS) cluster in strains of this species was identified in the genome of B. paralicheniformis 48. In total, the two B. paralicheniformis Red Sea strains were found to be more enriched in modular clusters compared to B. licheniformis strains and B. paralicheniformis strains from other environments. These findings provided more insights into the potential of B. paralicheniformis 48 as a microbial cell factory and encouraged further focus on the strain’s metabolism at the system level. Accordingly, a draft metabolic model for B. paralicheniformis Bac48 (iPARA1056) was reconstructed, refined, and validated using growth rate and growth phenotypes under different substrates, generated using high-throughput Phenotype Microarray technology. The presented studies indicate that several of the isolated strains represent promising chassis for the development of cell factories for enzyme production and also point to the richness of their genomes with specific modules of secondary metabolism that have likely evolved in Red Sea Bacilli due to environmental adaptation.
Date of AwardFeb 2018
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorVladimir Bajic (Supervisor)


  • Microbial cell factories
  • Biosynthetic genes clusters
  • Metabolics Networks
  • nonribosomal peptides
  • polyetides
  • Bacillus

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